US demands vote on United Nations arms trade treaty next week


The Hill

The Obama administration is demanding that the U.N. General Assembly vote on  an arms trade treaty opposed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) next week,  abandoning its earlier insistence on consensus.

The conference drafting the text broke up Thursday afternoon without reaching  a deal after North Korea (DPRK), Syria and Iran objected. The United States  immediately joined 11 other countries demanding a vote in the General Assembly  after the president of the conference delivers his report on  Tuesday.

“The U.S. regrets that it was not possible today to reach  consensus at this conference on an arms trade treaty,” said Tom Countryman, the  assistant secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation and  head of the U.S. delegation to the Arms Trade Treaty Conference. “Such a treaty  would promote global security, would advance important humanitarian objectives,  and it would affirm the legitimacy of the international trade in conventional  arms.”
He said the text that failed to reach consensus Thursday was “meaningful,” “implementable,” and “did not touch in any way upon the  constitutional rights of American citizens.”
“We look forward to this  text being adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in the very near  future,” Countryman told reporters in a conference call Thursday night. “It’s  important to the United States and the defense of our interests to insist on  consensus. But every state in this process has always been conscious of the fact  that, if consensus is not reached in this process, that there are other ways to  adopt this treaty, including via a vote of the General  Assembly.”
Countryman said a vote is expected as early as next week. That  could be delayed if states reopen the treaty for further changes,  however.
“The United States will vote in favor,” Countryman said. “We  think an overwhelming majority of states will vote in favor. I’m happy to vote  the opposite direction of such states as Iran, North Korea and Syria on this  text.”
The treaty would require that states institute internal mechanisms  for ensuring that their exports of conventional weapons aren’t likely to be used  to violate humanitarian law. The treaty is opposed by the National Rifle  Association and a majority of U.S. senators, but the administration says it  would have no impact on domestic Second Amendment rights.
Asked if the  rogues’ gallery of states that opposed the treaty would make it harder for the  NRA and lawmakers to continue opposing it, Countryman took an oblique dig at the  treaty’s critics.

“I don’t really do domestic politics,” Countryman said. “All I can say is,  for myself, I would much rather be on opposite sides of Syria, Iran and DPRK  than join them in criticism of this treaty.”
He added that the treaty  would help rather than harm U.S. arms makers.
“Currently the United  States already has the highest standard in the world regulating the export of  conventional arms. This treaty will bring much of the rest of the world not up  to the American standard, but much closer to the American standard. And in that  sense, I believe it levels the playing field and gives American manufacturers a  better competitive position in the world.”
If the treaty is approved by  the U.N., Countryman said, President Obama wouldn’t sign it until it’s “looked  at from all angles by many different agencies,” and the United States issues  statements of clarification on how it interprets the treaty and how it would be  implemented. That process usually takes several months.

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One thought on “US demands vote on United Nations arms trade treaty next week

  1. i just said our punishment is just getting started

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